The best ski resorts in Italy

Skiing in Italy conjures up images of the majestic Dolomites, the sunny days and the long runs on pristine white snow. It also beckons the images of the long and languorous lunches to be had both on and off the slopes, and the hospitality of the Italian people who embrace visitors, particularly children of whom who they adore. This is all about la dolce vita. There are many resorts that will accommodate to all of your desires, and a whole lot more.  This is but a small selection of the best skiing resorts in Italy.

Cortina d’Amprezzo

The mother ship of luxury, Cortina d’Amprezzo is also a significant historical area  and is also a UNESCO world natural heritage site. Known as the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’ and for its amazing pink sunsets, this is a very popular destination for many wealthy people, and also for people who want the magnificence of the Dolomites right on their doorstep.

Cortina d’Amprezzo

Cortina d’Amprezzo has 3 main areas – Tofano, Chrisallo and Faloria – and on the Dolomite super ski pass all of these can be accessed. The entire ski area has slopes for every level of skier or boarder and has some of the best ski schools to assist you to improve dramatically. The sheer beauty of the location will also be a great incentive. Each of the areas has their runs that suit you and your abilities best.

The 1956 Winter Olympics were held at Tofano and this offers some serious skiing opportunities on very steep slopes for advanced skiers. The slopes are covered with ‘rifugi’, which used to be refuges for lost skiers and hikers, but are now bespoke cute cafes and bars.

Luxury houses and chalets abound in this area, and the après scene is an art form in itself. From Michelin star restaurants, to family run Italian fare and high end shopping, you will not be disappointed. Cortina d’Amprezzo also offers some interesting diversions to skiing like ice polo and ice bouldering, as well as all of the pampering that your body needs and wants. There are no cars in the village, further enhancing its desirability.

To reach Cortina d’Amprezzo requires a combination of train and bus from Venice (3 and a half hours) or from Innsbruck (4 hours). Alternatively you can fly in on your private jet, or a charter flight.

Cervinia

Cervinia (which means Matterhorn in Italian) is a purpose built resort and as such is not as visually attractive as neighbouring areas like Valtournenche. However its position, which is dominated by the Matterhorn, seriously overcomes this. Cervinia remains a very popular choice with visitors. There are wide sunny slopes here and it is one of the highest resorts in the Alps, which ensure great snow coverage. Beginners like the slopes of Cretaz, while intermediates revel in the very long runs of the Ventina.

Cervinia

For advanced skiers Cervinia offers some excellent runs with the massive bonus of being able to ski across the border to Switzerland and tackle the slopes of the renowned Zermatt.

This village is also closed to cars, and you can reach Cervinia from Geneva or Turin, which are each 2 hours away.

Sestriere

Located on the border of France and Italy, Siestriere was home to the men’s downhill races in the 2006 Winter Olympics. It is part of the ‘Milky Way’ and gives you access to the slopes of Suaze, D’Oulz, Sansicario, Cesana and Clavier. An added incentive is the opportunity to cross the border and ski in France at Montgenevre. There are over 400km of pistes to select from.

Sestriere

This resort is very much suited to intermediate skiers and boarders, though obviously there are some significant runs for advances skiers. As per Italian standards, beginners and children are well catered for with about 25% of the slopes deemed suitable for this level.

As the Italians in particular have a fairly laid back approach to skiing, you should not be too crowded on the slopes, at the start of the day nor after lunch. This Alpine village was purpose built to capitalize on its location and climate and is a chic resort popular with Italians and visitors alike, being described, as being a bit like attending an international party.

The nearest airport is Turin and then a 2 hour bus ride to Siestriere, a little less if driving.

Courmayeur

This is a traditional Alpine village with cobble stoned streets and trattorias with the smell of coffee seeping through the air. Courmayeur is a very popular resort and is part of the famous Aosta Valley ski area, with over 180 pistes. Its crowning glory however is Mont Blanc, which provides an impeccable backdrop for your skiing.

Courmayeur

Coumayeur is great for beginners and intermediates, though there are excellent opportunities to ski over the border to enjoy what Chamonix in France has to offer. It is also prime real estate for cross country skiers with 35 km of stunning trails.

Boarders love Courmayeur, and that may explain the areas buoyant après scene. This resort is very popular with the super chic weekenders from Turin and Milan in particular, who arrive dressed in their finery to ski just a little, but to really enjoy the beautiful village, the food and the shopping, and just a little bit of who is wearing what.

There are also opportunities at Courmayeur for dog sledding and heli skiing, pampering and an impressive array of high end hotels and chalets.

Courmayeur is 150kms from Turin.

Selva val Gardena

Val Gardena is located near the stunning and vibrant city of Bolzano. It is located in a magnificent valley under the mighty Dolomites, so has absolutely everything going for it. This area is well known on the skiing World Cup circuit, and can obviously offer the conditions needed at that level.

Selva val Gardena

The linked areas of Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva cater for all levels. Val Gardena is also a magnet for powder enthusiasts, particularly boarders. The  Sella Ronda (a circular route) is the big favourite area here.

There are luxurious hotels, boutique chalets and a lot of luxury going on at Val Gardena.Val Gardena is well known for its wood work and it is worth selecting one of these hand made pieces to take home. The après scene starts early and finishes late, in a very Italian way. The siesta break is worth capitalizing on.

Innsbruck is 120kms away while Verona is 190kms. If you can get yourself off the slopes, Bolzano is just 40kms away and well worth the visit.

In conclusion

If you want to enjoy ‘the good life’ with some excellent skiing, food, shopping and all in a stunning environment, then Italy should be on your radar.

Comments (8)

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  1. Luca says:

    Of course, Sestriere is a very popular place in Piedmont and in Italy where to ski. It is also very much popular in summer, when people go there to go hiking or just to spend pleasant days on the mountains. Near Sestriere there is another beautiful and well-equipped ski resort: Prali.

  2. John says:

    For serious skiers Val Gardena offers access to Sellaronda (Passo Pordoi – Passo Campolongo – Passo Gardena – Passo Sella) the biggest ski carousel in Italy.

  3. Silvia N. says:

    I’ve visited all those destinations and they are all enchanting, great atmosphere and top class resorts to spend a great week. My favourite is Courmayeur, the best for expert skying in Italy and also close to France (and Switzerland).

  4. Tiana Kai says:

    Ah Sestriere! It’s actually my second home…my husband and I get to work from our apartment there for months during winter and summer. The skiing last year was better than the year before…and they had their first snow yesterday! Can’t wait to go back.

    Sauze D’Oulx is an amazing mountain, reminded me of the back bowls of Vail. The french all go to Club Med in Pragelato….a skip away.

    Great post, it would be fun to check out these other mountains!

  5. Stelian Ilie says:

    Interesting! Are they for beginners too?

  6. chad says:

    I never knew Italy has such beautiful snow! When I think of sking I always think Canada, Usa, Austria, etc, haha thanks for the tips!

  7. Tim says:

    Although the article lists two “Dolomite resorts” Cortina d’Ampezzo and Selva Gardena, you could ( and in my humble opinion ‘should’ ) consider the “Dolomites Superski Area” as one resort!

    Holiday skiers have, in the main, been trained by the major tour operators to ‘bash’ up and down the same old slopes for everyone of their valuable six annual ski days.

    The Dolomites offers something quite different. With careful planning and thought for your abilities, you can ski different slopes, areas, valleys, mountains each and every day. The choice is huge… or try a Dolomite Ski Safari to get the most from the area!

  8. My favourite place: Cortina. The best place of south tyrol for skiing, spa and recovery. Has anyone a tip for a ski school for our little daughter?
    Thank you!

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